Turkey evacuates terrified tourists by boat from forest fires

Turkey evacuates terrified tourists by boat from forest fires0 ISTANBUL: Terrified tourists in Turkey rushed to the seashore to wait for rescue boats after being told to evacuate some hotels in the Bodrum resort on the Aegean Sea due to the dangers posed by nearby wildfires, Turkish media reported.
Coast guard units led the operation and authorities asked private boats and yachts to assist in evacuation efforts from the sea as new forest fires broke out. A video showed plumes of smoke and fire engulfing a hill near the seashore.
The death toll from the wildfires that ravaged Turkey’s Mediterranean cities rose to six on Saturday after two forest workers were killed, the country’s health minister said. Fires in Turkey since Wednesday have burned forests and some settlements, encroaching on towns and tourist destinations and forcing people to evacuate.
The Russian news agency Sputnik said that more than 100 Russian tourists were evacuated from Bodrum and relocated to new hotels.
In a video of the Bodrum fire filmed from the sea, a man helping with evacuations was shocked by the speed of the fire and said: “This is unbelievable, just unbelievable. How did this fire (here) get so fast in 5 minutes? “He was not named in the video.
Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli said on Saturday that 91 of the 101 fires that broke out amid strong winds and scorching heat have been brought under control. The neighborhoods affected by the fire in five provinces were declared disaster areas.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited some affected areas on Saturday, inspecting the damage from a helicopter.
Speaking from the city of Manavgat, Erdogan announced that the Turkish government would cover rents for people affected by the fire and rebuild their homes. He said that tax, social security and credit payments for those affected would be postponed and that credit would be offered to small businesses without interest.
“We can do nothing but wish God’s mercy for the lives we have lost, but we can replace all that was burned,” he said.
Erdogan said the number of planes fighting the fires had risen from six to 13, including planes from Ukraine, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran, and that thousands of Turkish personnel, as well as dozens of helicopters and drones were assisting in the suppression efforts. of fires.
In a Marmaris speech on Saturday night, Erdogan said that one of the fires had been started by children and that other investigations were ongoing.
At least five people died from the fires in Manavgat and one died in Marmaris. Both locations are Mediterranean tourist destinations. Tourism is a major source of income for Turkey, and business owners expected this summer to be much better than last year, when travel restrictions due to the pandemic sent tourism plummeting.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said 400 people affected by the Manavgat fires were treated in hospitals and released, while another 10 remain hospitalized for fire injuries. In Marmaris, 159 people were treated at the hospital and one person was still in treatment for burns.
In the southern province of Hatay, the flames jumped into populated areas, but were then apparently controlled.
Wildfires are common in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey during the arid summer months.
Meanwhile, a heat wave in southern Europe, fueled by hot air from Africa, has sparked forest fires across the Mediterranean, including in Italy and Greece.
Firefighters on the Italian island of Sicily fought dozens of fires caused by high temperatures on Saturday, prompting the region’s governor to ask Rome for help. Some 150 people trapped in two coastal areas of the city of Catania were evacuated by sea on Friday night, where they were collected with rubber objects and transferred to Coast Guard ships.
In western Greece, a forest fire that broke out on Saturday forced the evacuation of four towns and people on a beach by the Fire Service, the Coast Guard and private boats.
The fire broke out in a mountain forest 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Patras, Greece’s third-largest city, Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said Saturday night. Aided by strong winds, the fire raced down the slopes and threatened the coastal towns.
The Civil Protection Agency sent text messages to residents of four villages, two in the mountains and two by the sea, to evacuate them. Local media said some villagers refused to leave and were trying to fight the fire with garden hoses.
Temperatures in Greece and neighboring countries in southeastern Europe are expected to rise to 42 degrees Celsius (over 107 Fahrenheit) on Monday in many cities and towns.